The moment many fans had been waiting for finally arrived last week as Bungie pushed the green light on the beta for Destiny 2. Unfortunately for me, I was away on vacation and without access to the internet for the better part of a week, so my time with it was somewhat limited. Interestingly enough, this exactly mirrors the situation I found myself in years ago when the first Destiny beta kicked off.
Unlike that beta however, this one for Destiny 2 didn’t reveal quite as much, only giving access to much of the content that had been seen during the Gameplay reveal livestream back in May. Fans got an opportunity to see how the Tower fell in the first story mission known as Homecoming, The Inverted Spire strike, and two crucible modes: Control and Countdown.
So after spending some time in each of the four main areas, how was it? Is Destiny 2 on track to be a better game than its predecessor? Here are my thoughts:
For me, one of the weakest areas of Destiny was with its campaign and story. I’ve spent ample time on this subject in the past and felt that Bungie dropped the ball in many aspects. The story didn’t make much sense, the lore was locked behind unlockable digital cards only accessible on their website, and many of the NPC characters just didn’t have much of an impact. Naturally, things improved through multiple expansions and I’m happy to say that Bungie seems to have fully learned their lesson with Destiny 2.
I mean, seriously, this is what I was expecting from the first game. Bungie shows you it’s not playing around by opening up with a cutscene setting the stage for the Red Legion’s strike against the Tower. You have prominent NPCs taking center stage just as chaos breaks loose. The momentum doesn’t stop there either as the player actually runs into Cayde-6, Zavala, Shaxx, and Ikora briefly, remains in contact with NPCs during the mission, and cutscenes, like the one featuring the ace pilot Amanda Holliday, help transition the player into new areas.
What’s also cool is that this mission also automatically pulls three random players in during one section of the mission, giving players a little taste of co-op as well. It’s cool to stumble into random players and work with them.
I’m also glad that the simple formula Bungie used for just about every mission in vanilla Destiny is now gone. No longer will you run from room to room shooting creatures until the very end of the level where you have to defeat waves of enemies while your AI Ghost hacks or decrypts something. Homecoming in Destiny 2 adds plenty of shooting, story telling, and simple platforming as well. I’m thrilled the wave defense crutch is now gone.
Without giving too much away, I’m really intrigued with how the game picks up after the events at the end of the mission. I’m also eager to see how (Spoilers) is still around during the Inverted Spire strike considering that it basically gets (spoilers) when the Cabal (spoilers) at the end of the mission.
The biggest news with multiplayer is that modes are getting reduced to just 4v4. The beta offered a glimpse at the newly reworked Control mode, where teams started out each with the flag closest to them already taken and without needing to neutralize a capture point first. The other option was the new Countdown mode which introduces a round based attack and defend mode with no respawns during each round.
Control felt a lot faster considering teams no longer had to wait around to neutralize, then capture the point. I’m a fan of this change. The smaller maps kept the action turned up as finding enemies did not involve a lot of running around.
Countdown adds a strategic layer to the run and gun combat so Counter-Strike or Search and Destroy CoD players should really enjoy themselves. Nothing quite as tense as when you’re the last guardian standing and facing long odds.
Overall multiplayer felt real good, as fast and fluid as one would expect. The matchmaking system seemed to connect me to other players very quickly, and the combat seemed even faster thanks to the smaller maps. Ultimately, it feels a bit more refined, but more or less the same so if you weren’t a fan of the first game, I don’t think this will do much else for you. I didn’t run into any issues, though I’d attribute that to the fact that I played the beta during the last few days and many of the bugs had been ironed out by that point.
I didn’t run into any issues, though I’d attribute that to the fact that I played the beta during the last few days and many of the bugs had been ironed out by that point.
When Bungie first revealed that weapons and armor would no longer have randomized modifiers in Destiny 2, I didn’t think much of it. Though the fanbase wasn’t too keen on this, I can now understand why. Ultimately, it removes part of the dynamic randomness to the game. Maybe you have three Hawkmoons, but this one has X, Y, and Z, which is super rare. For many, people continue to play for a chance to earn one of these so-called “God Rolls” with gear.
By taking that randomness out of it, each time you get a Legendary or Exotic item in Destiny 2, you know what you’re getting. Not only does this make things a little less exciting, (especially in a loot based game), it also potentially means the game might have less loot overall. Either that or Bungie had to go into overdrive to create a ton of new gear for players to acquire. I mean, the alternative is that players who spend a lot of time in this world will eventually find everything and the exact same gear over and over. I don’t know about you, but for loot-centric games, that’s not a good thing.
I wonder if the remedy to this is to add new guns to the game at a faster rate after the fact? Activision has commented that Bungie has created a faster content cycle so maybe this is part of it?
One annoying aspect I ran into often was with the cooldown length for grenades and melee abilities. I couldn’t shake the feeling that the recharge time was much longer than in the original game. While both the Titan and Warlock have abilities that reduce these cooldowns, just on a base level it felt a lot longer than necessary to access them.
Maybe it’s intentional but super moves don’t feel quite as super as they did in the first game. They’re beatable now and are no longer signals of imminent death. Yes, supers still give the user a significant advantage, but they’re no longer one hit kills like they were in the old days. Based on things I’m hearing from other players, it seems the Arcstrider fits this description pretty well. I’m conflicted about this as I can see advantages and disadvantages to leaving them this way.
Pretty sure Bungie will tweak much of this stuff before the full release so I’m not terribly concerned.
Visually, Destiny 2 looks better than the first game. While it uses a modified version of the same engine, there’s no doubt that Bungie was able to tap into more power on consoles. Lighting, shadows, and environmental effects all looks better, and can easily be seen in the campaign mission. Neon lights, fire, pouring rain, it all works so well in creating a visually appealing place to spend time in. You know, even though that place is getting destroyed by vicious aliens.
I’m also happy to report that Destiny 2 also features a number of cool and small little touches. Guns sound much better and more diverse than in the previous games. SMGs and Assault Rifles in particular sound MUCH better and I’m a sucker for the THUNK, THUNK noises of the grenade launcher.
Another small detail I noticed is in the UI and presentation. It feels much cleaner and sleeker overall. The loading screen, in particular, looks much better as your ship warps to its next destination. Again, really small touches, but ones that overall help to elevate the experience as a whole.
Even though many of us got a small taste of what’s to come, there’s still a lot we don’t know about Destiny 2. I can’t definitively say whether or not this is the definitive Destiny experience many were hoping for all those years ago. At first glance, it seems that way as you can see a lot of improvements to the formula. Still, if you’re a fan of the first game, it’s likely that you’ll continue to enjoy yourself here. If you didn’t really enjoy yourself the first time around, I can’t really say for sure if this one will make you a believer.
We’ll have to wait until September to find that out for sure.